The Old Parish of Great Crosthwaite lies at the heart of England's Lake District. From the moment of its in the sixth century AD, Crosthwaite parish has pursued a remarkable course. Its sixty square miles were governed, from medieval times, by eighteen annually chosen customary tenants, who would run all non-ecclesiastical aspects of parish life.
After the opening up of Lakeland in the late 18th century, Crosthwaite was a central part of the landscape that intoxicated the Lake Poets, but in the 19th century, the legislative fervour of the Victorian state would bring about the demise of the old parish system, sweeping away the benign rule of the eighteen men. But a measure of redemption was at hand: Canon Rawnsley, campaigning vicar of Crosthwaite from 1883, pledged to defend the Lake District and its natural environment for future generations. Thus did Crosthwaite become the crucible of the National Trust and blazed a trail for a wider movement to preserve the English landscape.
A Mountain Republic is both a pointilliste and sedulously constructed record of an individual Lakeland parish and a wider history of a region of England with a unique social, cultural and aesthetic resonance.